The economic slump following 1929’s thorough and convincing near-obliteration of Wall Street hit Japan especially hard: exports fell, unemployment rose. Japan, not being rich in natural resources, needed oil and coal to make power to run machines to produce goods to sell to other countries to make money to buy food to have enough energy. Manchuria, a province of China, had its fair share of oil and coal. After Japan decided it needed to invade Manchuria, they needed a pretext to justify the invasion. They chose to create a false flag attack on a railway close to Liutiao Lake… a big flat area that had no military value to either the Japanese or the Chinese. The main reason the spot was chosen was for its proximity (about 800 meters distant) to Chinese troops stationed at Beidaying. The Japanese press labelled the no-name site of the blast Liutiaogou, which was Japanese for “Liutiao Bridge.” There was no bridge there, but the name helped convince some that the sabotage was a strategic Chinese attack. Colonel Itagaki Seishiro and Lieutenant Colonel Kanji Ishiwara ordered officers of the Shimamoto Regiment to place a bomb beneath the tracks. The original bomb failed to detonate and a replacement had to be found. Then, at 10.20pm, September 18, 1931, the tracks were blown. Surprisingly, the explosion was minor. Only one side of the rail was damaged, and the damage was so light that a train headed for Shenyang passed by only a few minutes later. But it was a good enough excuse to invade…

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper cutting is dated 19th. Sept. 1931. It states that on the 18th. Sept. at 11:00pm, the Chinese exploded a bomb on the tracks of the South Manchurian Railway. One of a series of events (there were many atrocities committed against civilians) that would ultimately lead to the Japanese occupation of Manchuria.

The Japanese immediately charged the Chinese soldiers with the destruction, then invaded Manchuria. A puppet government known as Manchukuo was installed. The League of Nations investigated and in a 1932 report denied that the invasion was an act of defense, as Japan had advertised. But rather than vacate Manchuria, Japan decided to vacate the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

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